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Viol, Kathrin, Schiepek, Guenter, Kronbichler, Martin, Hartl, Arnulf, Grafetstaetter, Carina, Strasser, Peter, Kastinger, Anna, Schoeller, Helmut, Reiter, Eva-Maria, Said-Yuerekli, Sarah, Kronbichler, Lisa, Kravanja-Spannberger, Brigitte, Stoeger-Schmidinger, Barbara, Huett, Marc-Thorsten, Aichhorn, Wolfgang and Aas, Benjamin (2020): Multi-level assessment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) reveals relations between neural and neurochemical levels. In: BMC Psychiatry, Vol. 20, No. 1, 559

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BackgroundWhile considerable progress has been made in exploring the psychological, the neural, and the neurochemical dimensions of OCD separately, their interplay is still an open question, especially their changes during psychotherapy.MethodsSeventeen patients were assessed at these three levels by psychological questionnaires, fMRI, and venipuncture before and after inpatient psychotherapy. Seventeen controls were scanned at comparable time intervals. First, pre/post treatment changes were investigated for all three levels separately: symptom severity, whole-brain and regional activity, and the concentrations of cortisol, serotonin, dopamine, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and immunological parameters (IL-6, IL-10, TNF alpha). Second, stepwise linear modeling was used to find relations between the variables of the levels.ResultsThe obsessive-compulsive, depressive, and overall symptom severity was significantly reduced after psychotherapy. At the neural level, the activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), in frontal regions, in the precuneus, and in the putamen had significantly decreased. No significant changes were found on the neurochemical level. When connecting the levels, a highly significant model was found that explains the decrease in neural activity of the putamen by increases of the concentrations of cortisol, IL-6, and dopamine.ConclusionMultivariate approaches offer insight on the influences that the different levels of the psychiatric disorder OCD have on each other. More research and adapted models are needed.

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